It was billed as a marquee matchup between Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby, but Leon Draisaitl ended up stealing the show.
Draisaitl had a goal and two assists as the Edmonton Oilers exploded for four goals in the second period to come from behind and defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 on Monday.
“We were just not skating and it seems very obvious with our group that the second we start skating and being engaged that we are extremely hard to stop,” said Draisaitl of his team being able to turn it around after trailing 3-1.
“It just takes us too long to get to that point right now. That is something we can obviously work on. I am proud of the group and the way we responded in the second and third. But we shouldn’t have to rally back from two or three goals every game.”
Zach Hyman, Tyson Barrie, Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan McLeod also scored for the Oilers, who went 3-3 on their season-starting six-game homestand.
“There was good moments and then moments that are going to make us better going forward,” said Edmonton head coach Jay Woodcroft, who pointed out the Oilers had just faced three consecutive opponents who had yet to lose in regulation time. “(To be) 3-3 at the end of it? We’re going to take a good feeling with us on our road trip.”
Rickard Rakell, Crosby and Bryan Rust responded for the Penguins (4-1-1) who lost for the first time in regulation time this NHL season.
“We just got on our heels,” Crosby said. “We didn’t forecheck well. We gave them some time and space and they are a dangerous team. If you give them the time and space, they are going to make plays.
“We just have to put a full game together. I think we can still do a better job of that. We had a better start, but then we don’t follow it up. We have to put a full game together, focus on that, and the rest will take care of itself.”
Edmonton scored a rare first goal of the game 4:26 into the opening period as Evan Bouchard made a long stretch pass to send Hyman in alone and he made a nice move to beat Penguins starter Tristan Jarry on the backhand.
Pittsburgh pulled even midway through the first frame on the power play as Rakell sent a shot through a screen that went off the bar and in.
Less than two minutes later, the Penguins took the lead as Rakell made a nice feed across to a wide-open Crosby and he beat Oilers goalie Jack Campbell to the glove side for his fourth of the campaign.
Pittsburgh outshot Edmonton 19-9 in the first period.
The Penguins made it 3-1 two minutes into the second as Rust banked a shot off of Campbell and in from behind the net for his third of the season.
Shortly after the Oilers got a real scare as captain McDavid went hard into the net after a shove from Jeff Petry and appeared to hurt his ribs or back and left for the dressing room. McDavid would end up returning later in the second.
On the ensuing power play, Edmonton got a goal back as a Barrie blast from the point caromed off two skates and pinballed into the net.
The Oilers tied the game with five minutes left in the second period as Draisaitl passed the puck in front and Kane somehow snuck it in-between Jarry and the post for his second of the year.
The ice continued to be tilted in Edmonton’s favour for the rest of the period with two more goals. With 1:32 left to play, Hyman made a nice no-look back pass in front to Nugent-Hopkins for the goal. Then with just 23 seconds remaining, Draisaitl danced around defender Brian Dumoulin and sent a backhand low to the blocker side past Jarry for his third.
Edmonton outshot Pittsburgh 26-4 in the second frame. The 26 shots is a franchise record for shots in a period.
The Oilers got some insurance with three minutes left in the third period as Derek Ryan dropped it back to McLeod on an odd-man rush and he deposited his third past Jarry.
Despite the offensive explosion, McDavid was held without a point.
It was the 10th time that star forwards McDavid and Crosby played against each other. McDavid held the clear edge in scoring through the first nine encounters with 18 points to Crosby’s five. Both players entered the contest with 10 points in five games this season. … Pittsburgh came into the game having scored six goals in four of its five outings. Their 26 goals through five games was the most any team in the NHL had scored since the 1993-94 season. There has only been one season in franchise history when the Penguins scored more goals through their first five games than this year … Edmonton sported a 30-3-1 record since last season when scoring first. … Penguin’s forward Jake Guentzel (upper body) remained out but was skating on Monday morning. Also out for Pittsburgh was Teddy Blueger (upper body). … Absent for Edmonton was rookie forward Dylan Holloway (upper body), forcing the Oilers to once again dress 11 forwards and seven defencemen due to salary cap constraints.
The Penguins are right back at it on Tuesday as they play the third game of a season-high five-game road trip in Calgary against the Flames.
The Oilers embark on their first trip of the season, starting a three-game travel schedule on Wednesday in St. Louis against the Blues.